Foster mom adopts 2 children born addicted to heroin
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - It seems like almost every day there is a story about the Greater Cincinnati area's heroin epidemic.
On Monday though, there has been a victory in that fight. It's very limited, but it means new lives for two children.
“It's another beautiful day in probate court,” said Judge Ralph Winkler.
It’s “beautiful” because, after two years as foster children, Landen and Mikayla were being adopted by their foster mom: Janet Siemer.
But that's not all.
“Both were born addicted to heroin,” said Janet.
You'd never know it now as Landen nearly took over Monday's hearing with his happiness and energy. The active little boy ended up sitting next to Judge Ralph Winkler.
Landon was in the hospital for seven weeks after he was born, withdrawing from heroin before Janet could take him home where the problems continued.
“He had all the symptoms. The diarrhea. The vomiting. The sensitivity to light. So it was quite a challenge the first three nights. He would wake up screaming. I'd comfort him and he's fall asleep for five minutes. And then he'd wake up again. After the first night I thought oh my gosh, what am I getting myself into,” said Janet.
What she did get into was a sweet boy and a few months later, Janet took in Makayla, who was also a heroin baby, but in better shape at birth.
The two children were not related and had been taken permanently from their drug-troubled families.
The philosophy and goal of the court system and the foster care system is to ultimately return the foster children to their birth parents. But the reality is with the heroin epidemic, that just doesn't happen that often.
“I've been in this field 14 years and this is something we've never seen. In fact, we expected it to take a different turn, almost a decline in foster care, but now the numbers continue to rise daily,” said Jessica Parks of the Necco Foster Care Agency.
Janet Siemer, who is a nurse, says she adopted her foster children in part to fight the heroin epidemic in her own small way.
“The reason I became a foster parent is I saw every day how heroin affects families and there were children in need of foster care,” said Janet. “But also because I love children, so why not?”
Landen and Makayla are now healthy and happy, so, as they say, court is adjourned.
Social workers in Hamilton county say 475 children so far this year have been permanently taken from families, on track for an all-time record.
There's no breakdown on how many are heroin-related, but it's reportedly a lot.